The situation of violence against children, abuse and exploitation against children, especially girl child has been a matter of great concern in Bangladesh. Adding into this imperative is the violence faced by children at the digital platform. Assessing the overall situation of online child abuse and exploitation faced by girls, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) held a virtual dialogue on 6 December 2020, on ‘Online Abuse and Exploitation against Girl Child: Law, Reality and Remedies’ as part of its “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence”.
This event was attended by different stakeholders, including representatives of the Human Rights Commission, member of Parliament, representative of the Law Commission, representative of the donor agency, lawyers, academics, police, judge, journalists, civil society, women and children’s rights activist and so on, in order to discuss about the importance and significance of online safety of all children including girls. Nasima Begum, ndc, Chairperson, NHRC, attended the dialogue as the chief guest and the special guests of the event were: Aroma Dutta, Member of the Parliament, and Chairperson,Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights, and Begum Jasmine Ara, Member, NHRC.
The keynote paper was presented by Ambica Roy, Coordinator, Child Rights Unit, ASK, and the dialogue was moderated by Golam Monwar Kamal, Executive Director, ASK. Legal stakeholders from the dialogue also reviewed the existing legal framework in order to ensure online protection to all children. Kazi Mahfuzul Haque Supan, Associate Professor, Department of Law, Dhaka University; Bithika Hasan,Gender Specialist, UNDP; Md Nazmul Islam, Additional Assistant Superintendent of Police, Cyber Crime Unit of Police; Dr. Helal Uddin Ahmed, Associate Professor, National Institute of Mental Health and Judge Farjana Hossain from National Law Commission were present as panel speakers in the dialogue.Professor Kazi Faruk Ahmed, a member of the National Education Policy Formulation Committee, and Mohammad Saimum Reza Talukder, a teacher at the Faculty of Law, BRAC University also spoke in the dialogue.
From the dialogue, a number of recommendations were placed before the government in order to Take effective measures to ensure online child protection especially for girls. The recommendations were as follows:
- Conduct advocacy activities with the Attorney General’s Office to execute the Mutual Legal Aid Treaty (MLAT) quickly to get information about the perpetrators when the perpetrators are from other countries or territories;
- Conduct advocacy activities with the government to join the European Convention on Cybercrime to get the necessary information about international and transnational cyber criminals who abuse girls and children online;
- Exchange views with the Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights for taking necessary steps to ensure child-friendly internet;
- Conduct cyber security awareness campaigns in educational institutions.
- Work closely with the NHRC to provide training to the police on human rights and child cybersecurity;
- Conduct research to explore the limitations in existing laws to ensure the safety of girls and children on internet;
- Conduct advocacy with the concerned Ministries and the National Law Commission in changing,amending and modifying the existing laws/provisions and so on.